The burden of proof lies upon the respondent to establish the charge of cruelty; it has a very wide purview and differs in every other matrimonial case -High court of New Delhi
Cruelty is defined under section 13 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, which is a ground for dissolution of marriage may be defined as willful and unjustifiable conduct of such character as to cause danger to life, limb or health, bodily or mental, or as to give rise to a reasonable apprehension of such a danger in such cases the onus of proof lies on the respondent who had subject his/her spouse to cruelty. In the case of RAHUL KESARWANI VS SUNITA BHUYAN (MAT.APP.(F.C.) 75/2020) the judgement passed by the division bench of HON’BLE JUSTICE VIPIN SANGHI & HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE JASMEET SINGH dealt with the issue mentioned above.
In this case the parties have stayed together only for two months in which period the respondent (wife) has been subjected to Dowry harassment and cruelty by the husband and his family members after and since then were living separately for 11 years .The respondent herein filed for the dissolution of marriage in the Family court and was granted the same.
Aggrieved by the order the petitioner filed an application for setting aside the dissolution order and contended that the claims made by the wife are completely baseless there is no instances of dowry torture, without any evidentiary proof the family court is faulty giving its verdict in the favor of the wife hence such order should be set aside.
The learned counsel for the petitioner stated that the marriage between the parties was not cohabited and she was tortured severely by the husband and family members produced the document in which the petitioner herein has accepted the dowry torture and has asked for forgiveness, the parties were living separately since 11 years and the husband was also a patient of Bipolar disorder which was concealed at the time of marriage.
The learned counsel for respondent stated that there are no evidentiary proofs against the petitioner (husband and hence it cannot be stated that the respondent was subjected to cruelty by mere presumption and request the hon’ble court to set aside the dissolution order.
The division bench of the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi noted the judgement in Naveen Kohli v. Neelu Kohli, ((2006) 4 SCC 558) which states- “when parties have separated for a sufficient length of time it is significant that the marriage has breakdown and in case of cruelty burden lies upon the respondent to establish the charge of cruelty. The question is as to what is the standard of proof to be applied in order to judge whether the burden has been discharged or not.”
The hon’ble Court perused the facts and arguments presented and opined that “this is a case of the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage and the ground of cruelty on account of subsequent facts the court doesn’t found itself to be inclined to set aside the dissolution of marriage therefore, the present appeal is dismissed.”
Judgement reviewed by Pratikshya Pattnaik